Tomato salad is practically synonymous with uncomplicated summer dinners. The key to the best tomato salad recipe is to keep it simple! Our recipe uses a classic combination of juicy tomato wedges, tossed with a vinegar and olive oil dressing, a little garlic, basil, and red onion. Read on for our favorite way to make tomato salad and tips for keeping it full of flavor without getting watery.

close up of the tomato wedge salad with basil sprig in a white bowl with serving spoon

Our Best Tomato Salad Recipe

Here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we are all about helping you find ways of preparing seasonal produce. So if you have a surplus of tomatoes this season, then you have come to the right recipe blog! Some of our favorite ways to use up a lot of tomatoes include Gazpacho, Tomato and Bread Salad aka Panzanella, and Baked Tomatoes with Cheese on top. When my garden really starts to get overloaded with tomatoes I’ll seed and dice them for canning, make tomato marinade and even work it into tomato salad dressing!

Of course, the easiest way to use up a lot of tomatoes, with the least amount of effort is to make tomato Salads! Over the years, we’ve shared tomato salad with cucumbers, tomato salad with anchovies, tomato and green bean salad, and chopped salad with tomatoes. But today we are dishing up our most basic tomato salad.

This Tomato Salad recipe is so easy I have a hard time justifying calling it a “recipe.” After all, fresh garden tomatoes, at the peak of summer freshness, need but a few pantry staples– a little fresh basil, garlic and onion– to elevate them.

Of course, you can always add on additional seasonings, cheeses and other veggies too. We have suggestions for variations to try in our expert tips sections. Read on for all the details, and make sure to let us know if you make it by leaving a star rating and review below the recipe card.

Tomato Salad Ingredients

the ingredients on a sheet pan with text overlay
  • Tomatoes: In the below recipe card I call specifically for tomato wedges and cherry tomatoes, but you can’t go wrong with whatever kind of tomatoes you use for this recipe as long as they are ripe and in season. You want about 4 1/2 cups of tomato wedges plus 1 cup of small tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, slicer tomatoes and cherry tomatoes all work for this recipe. Roma tomatoes (also called plum tomatoes) work okay but aren’t as juicy as slicing tomatoes.
  • Olive Oil: I recommend keeping two bottles of olive oil on hand. One less expensive bottle (like from Costco) for cooking and a second bottle of highest quality oil for using in recipes where the flavor really makes a difference. The latter will be more expensive high-quality olive oil, but you don’t need much! This recipe is one of the times to reach for that best quality extra-virgin olive oil. The fruity and grassy flavors will really come through in the final salad.
  • Vinegar: I have tested this with all kinds of vinegar and my two favorites are red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. If using balsamic, I suggest using a higher quality balsamic vinegar for the smoothest sweetest taste. Good balsamic is thick and syrupy which really coats the ripe tomatoes well and is less harshly acidic than cheap balsamic. For a lower-cost alternative, I like red wine vinegar. It is inexpensive and the bright clean acidity is great in this salad. Feel free to use another type of vinegar or even lemon juice.
  • Garlic: I tested the salad with and without raw garlic and we liked it both ways. Feel free to leave it out if you want to simplify this recipe even more. For those of you who are gardeners who are growing garlic, note that you can also use 1 teaspoon of finely chopped or pureed garlic scapes when in season.
  • Dried Oregano: I go through a lot of dried oregano in the summer because I love the way it goes with raw tomatoes. That said, this is another ingredient that should be considered optional. You can also add in fresh oregano (use 2 tsp chopped fresh.)
  • Salt and Pepper: To season the tomatoes and balance the vinegar
  • Fresh Basil: Chopped basil is a classic accompaniment to tomatoes. Pull the leaves off of two large sprigs, wash them and chop just before stirring into the salad. Other fresh herbs can be subbed in but do not sub in dried basil which has an entirely different taste. Instead, use another fresh tender herb such as dill or even sliced arugula!
  • Red Onion: My mom and dad always added thinly sliced crisp red onion to their tomato salads, so I do too, but this is another optional ingredient. Sweet onions are also excellent (and more mild tasting) as are sliced green onions or shallot. If you do not like much raw onion, you can slice it and then soak it in cold water for 30 minutes before using. This will help mellow the flavor more.

How To Make Fresh Tomato Salad

making the dressing then stirring in the rest of the ingredients

Step 1: Make The Dressing

Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Alternatively, if you are prepping this ahead you can shake the ingredients in a jar.

Step 2: Toss Tomatoes with Dressing

Just before you are ready to serve, add the tomato wedges, cherry tomatoes, basil and onion. Gently toss to coat. Note: some heirloom varieties such as green zebra and most yellow tomatoes are very fragile and can fall apart if stirred too vigorously, so take care with them. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon and leave excess juices in the bottom of the bowl.

tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette in a white bowl from overhead with cherry tomatoes on the table and basil sprigs

FAQs and Expert Tips for the Best Tomato Salad

How can you tell if a tomato is good?

You can tell a tomato is ripe when the flesh feels soft and gives slightly when you press your thumb into the side of it. Avoid hard tomatoes or those that aren’t red yet. Good tomatoes can be found at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and in your own backyard if you have a veggie garden. In the grocery store look for “heirloom” tomatoes. Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator unless they are so ripe and soft that they are about to rot.

Make Ahead, Storage, and Leftovers

Tomato salad is best when freshly prepared and served immediately. As soon as tomatoes are mixed with salt and dressing they start to let off their juices and the salad will become more and more watery. As with a delicate green salad, it is best to prep it so that the tomato salad gets tossed just as the main dish is ready to serve.

To Prep Ahead:

  1. Combine dressing in a jar and keep refrigerated up to 1 week.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes up to 1 day ahead and keep in a resealable storage container in the refrigerator.
  3. If desired, the onions can also be prepped and stored separately in the fridge.
  4. At the last minute cut the whole tomatoes into bite size pieces and chop the basil. Then toss with the remaining prepped ingredients.

Leftovers & Storage

If you do have leftovers, here’s what to do: Keep any leftover tomato salad in a snap-lock container in the refrigerator up to 1 day. The next day, serve the leftover tomato salad with a slotted spoon and leave the tomato juice in the bottom of the dish.

Alternatively, you can add in chunks of stale bread to turn it into a panzanella. Drizzle with good olive oil if desired.

Substitutions and Variations to Try

  • Add in canned beans, like cannellini beans or chickpeas to make it heartier and add a little plant-based protein. Add in step 2.
  • We loved this recipe when we tried it with the simple addition of fresh mozzarella for a variation of caprese salad. Use 1 cup of bocconcini, cut in half or take a, 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into small pieces. Stir it in with the tomatoes.
  • Add a little crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese. Use 1/2 cup crumbled cheese. Add on kalamata olives for a Greek-inspired twist.
  • Add in a sliced English cucumber, avocado, or sweet corn kernels instead of the cherry tomatoes.

What To Serve with Tomato Salad

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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the tomato salad in a white bowl

Simple Tomato Salad

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x


The key to the best tomato salad recipe is to keep it simple! Our recipe uses a classic combination of juicy tomato wedges tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, a little garlic, basil, and red onion. 


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges (24 ounces, 4 ½ cups)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 to 2 large sprigs basil, leaves sliced
  • ¼ cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • Optional: 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into bite-sized chunks, or bocconcini, cut in half


  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add tomato wedges, cherry tomatoes, basil, onion and mozzarella (if using.) Gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Tomato salad is best when freshly prepared and served immediately. As soon as tomatoes are mixed with salt and dressing they start to let off their juices and the salad will become more and more watery. Furthermore, refrigerating tomatoes can make them mealy. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 123
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Keywords: tomato salad, tomato salad recipe, tomato salads, tomato salad recipes, best tomato salad,easy tomato salad, simple tomato salad, tomato basil salad, raw tomato salad, fresh tomato salad,